Edward Harper Parker.

China, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day online

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Wemmick's "personal property" and not a
fixture in the soil like the land-tax ; which last,
moreover, the Emperor K'ang-hi had sworn by
the nine gods, on behalf of the proud house then
reigning, " never to tax no more."

Accordingly we find the same Chang Kien
called upon by Yiian Shi-k'ai (when summoned
to Peking late in 1911 to save the dynasty) to
serve as Minister of Trade and Agriculture ; and
a little later, when the Republic was temporarily
organised at Nanking, Chang Kien was chair-
man of the first conventicle there ; he held many
trusted posts during the first three years of Yiian's
presidency ; but in 1915 (scenting danger) applied
unsuccessfully during August to go to the so-
called "Watercourse Conferences" in America.
He was appointed one of the " Four Cronies "
when Yiian declared himself Emperor, but was
conveniently attacked by a serious diplomatic
malady, disappeared into space, and has hidden
himself away (officially) ever since. In 1913 he
published his scheme of Salt Reform, which has
also been translated and published in English ;
this was the precursor to an invitation to Sir
Richard Dane (form.erly Inspector-General of
Excise and Salt in India) to take over the job,



A.D. 1908-1916] KING STORK AND KING LOG 248

which has since been done with such marvellons
success that the Salt Revenue in the short space
of three years has ah-eady begun to rival the
Foreign Maritime Customs Revenue in bulk and
certainty. It may here be mentioned paren-
thetically that, previous to the death of the
Dowager and the Emperor in 1908, a Chinese
mission had already been sent to India to inquire
into the nature of the Salt Administration there.
Sir Richard Dane, or the Chinese Administra-
tion, will no doubt from time to time publish
reports showing exactly how far he has dealt
with each of the eleven systems, which are
here illustrated more clearly by a map ; how
far he has left the cadres (so to speak) of the
'personnel untouched in Chinese hands ; and so
on. Meanwhile it may be stated that the official
Chinese Government report for 1911, the last
year of the Manchu Empire, published the fol-
lowing list of the amounts consumed and taxed
during that year : —



The



Two Kwang system




1,954,821 cwts. (of 133^ lb.)


Fuh Kien system




772,000 „




Two Cheh system




1,700,620 „




„ Hwai system




4,896,888 „




Sz Ch'wan system




5,508,600 „




Yiin Nan system




512,300 „




Manchuria system




3,840,000 „




Mongol-Kan Suh system


22,781




Shan Tung system .


2,095,744 „




Ch'ang-lu (Chih Li) system


. 3,974,000 „




Ho-tung (Shan Si) system


1,589,400 „
26,867,154





Apart from corrupt and intentional juggling
with figures, the above total does not mean
very much in point of accuracy, for each place
has (or had) its own special arrangements for
taxes, allowances, perquisites, etc., which often
meant that one cwt. nominal was in reality as
18



244 THE SALT GABELLE [chap, xi

much as two at the outstart of its travels from
the base to the depots. Still less do the estimates
I have formed above of the increased revenues
from salt between 1899 and 1911 (based on the
supposition that the Government would extract
an average of two taels the cwt.) correspond
place by place with the irregular reality. Here,
again, local custom varies, and it is hopeless to
attempt the unravelling of exchanges, propor-
tions, relation to land-tax, fees, etc., etc. The
only thing is to wait until Sir Richard Dane
gradually rakes in all hitherto untouched
systems, introduces intelligible general rules,
and straightens out the whole tangled web.
Meanwhile we cannot be far wrong in cutting
the Gordian knot as we have done at, say,
53,000,000 taels; for, as we have seen, the
budget of 1913 drawn up by the Chinese Minister
of Finance bejore King Stork in the shape of
Sir Richard Dane had replaced King Log in
the shape of " old custom," put down the esti-
mated salt revenue at $550,000,000, one Mexican
dollar and a half being (very roughly) estimated
at one (government) tael for the purposes of
this calculation.



tHOW






Online LibraryEdward Harper ParkerChina, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day → online text (page 21 of 35)